Three days into Illinois’ 2011 bow season, Billy Foster glimpsed a stud of a buck at 70 yards. He saw it for only 30 seconds, but he was bowled over by the girth of the deer’s baseball bat-sized right main beam, which is why he nicknamed it Louisville.
Completely besotted, he hated to go back home to El Dorado, Ark.
While hunting the same vicinity a month and a half later, Billy saw another giant whitetail with a forked P-2 on its left antler. He decided to call it G2 (the B&C designation for a rack’s second typical point). He was maybe 100 yards from where he’d been when he spotted Louisville.
Billy, his son, Cole, and brother Tommy — along with a couple of hometown friends — lease land in Pike County, Ill. Their bar is set for 140 inches, and they are surrounded by property owners who abide the same restriction.
The day after Billy saw Louisville, Tommy arrowed a 140-class 10-pointer. That only fueled his desire to notch his own tag.
“I hunted all the next week, saw a very good 12-pointer and several good 10s in the 140s, but I could not be satisfied with one of those after seeing Louisville,” Billy said. “I was hunting for only one deer.”
Billy returned to Arkansas on Oct. 10, and he didn’t get back to Illinois until Nov. 4.
“Before daybreak on Nov. 11, on my way to the stand, I saw Louisville cross a dirt road,” he said. “We had to leave that afternoon and take my brother back home for the hunting season in Arkansas.
“I got home, still thinking about Louisville, and I couldn’t sleep,” he added. “I drove back the next day — 10 hours one way, by myself.”
Billy didn’t see any shooter bucks until the morning of Nov. 16. That’s when he saw the big 10-pointer he nicknamed G2 chasing does in a cut cornfield.
“I went from hunting one deer to hunting two nice bucks that I guessed were in the mid-170s or higher,” he said.
On Nov. 19, Billy took his climber to where he thought he might intercept the forked-tine buck. At daylight, he saw a big deer with three does.
It was raining, cold and foggy. Even so, he realized that he’d been wrong to think he was hunting two different deer.
“I watched that buck for a long time through binoculars,” he said. “He was driving me crazy. It was also clear to me then that Louisville and G2 were the same buck.”
For the next two and a half hours, the buck chased the does all over the cut cornfield, an expanse that measured about 250 by 350 yards. Billy was hunting with a muzzleloader, and the chase never brought the buck closer than 250 yards.
“He would lay down, and whenever those does fed out of range, he would jump up and go get them,” Billy said.
“Finally, around 9:00, he chased those does within 60 yards of me, into some woods.”
The buck was finally close enough.
Through the dense cover, Billy could see the buck looking in his direction. The does were between them. Not shooting might mean losing the chance for which he’d waited all morning.
“I shot him through thick stuff, head on, into the neck — not the smartest of decisions,” he admitted. “Afterward, he wheeled and ran.
“I got down and was beating myself up for taking that shot, but I found blood and hair,” he continued. “He was lying only 50 yards away when I jumped him. He went up a hill, struggling, barely able to walk, and then disappeared onto the neighbor’s land.”
Billy then called Mike Bradshaw, who guides hunters on the adjacent property, and asked for permission to retrieve the deer. Bradshaw, who had a hunter out in that vicinity, asked him to wait for him to get there.
“We eased up the hill, and the deer got up and walked to the right of us,” Billy said. “One last shot, and he was done.
“When we walked up to him, Mike said congratulations on the deer of a lifetime,” he added.
Billy text-messaged his brother, who was also hunting in Illinois that day. Tommy responded, “Louisville or G2?”
“Both,” Billy answered.
Tommy arrived in short order. He’d also scored with a high-five-worthy, 160-class buck. When he saw Billy’s, however, he fell to his knees.
Billy, who trains and shows cutting horses, had to be in Fort Worth, Texas, the next morning. For the first time that year, he wasn’t sad to see Illinois in his rearview mirror.
Hunter: Billy Foster — Photos Courtesy of Billy Foster
BTR Official Score: 180 1/8
BTR Composite Score: 198 3/8
This article was published in the July 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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